As we all continue our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, another virus is on its way — influenza. Thankfully, just like the COVID-19 vaccine, getting the flu vaccination for your child is the best thing you can do to prevent them from getting sick.
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness that causes fever, chills, cough, sore throat, congestion, body aches and fatigue. Stomach illness with vomiting and diarrhea is commonly called the "stomach flu" — but this is not the same as influenza.
Flu season typically begins in late fall, peaks in January and February, and may last until late spring. The flu virus changes each season, so even though you may have had the flu in the past, or have been vaccinated in previous years, you can get it again. It’s important to get your flu vaccination as soon as possible as it typically takes two weeks for the vaccine to be effective in preventing the flu.
All of these concerns can be reduced with the flu vaccination. Getting the vaccination is an easy way to help protect your family and community.
The flu vaccine has been studied extensively, and it is safe and recommended for nearly everyone older than 6 months of age. Not only is the flu vaccine safe, but the doctors' offices and hospitals administering it are best equipped to provide a safe environment to get the shot. At Children’s Wisconsin, we’ve been taking many steps to ensure a clean and safe environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most brands of influenza vaccine do not contain mercury. However, if mercury or the preservative thimerisol is present, extensive research has shown that this does not cause autism.
Patients with mild egg allergy such as hives can receive routine influenza vaccines. A special egg-free vaccine is available for people with a history of severe, life-threatening egg allergy.
While there may be some side effects of getting the vaccination, like soreness at the site of injection and mild flu-like symptoms, the vaccine does not cause the flu. The potential side effects of the vaccination are much less severe than a potential case of the flu.
If your child does get the flu, contact their doctor’s office by phone to determine if you should make an appointment or if they need any antiviral drugs. If your child is prescribed antivirals by their doctor, please ensure they take them as instructed. This can sometimes make the difference between a milder illness versus a more serious one. It is also important they rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Perhaps most importantly, do not send your child to school or daycare if they are sick. Staying home will prevent the spread of your child’s respiratory symptoms from both the influenza and COVID-19 viruses. Likewise, if you get the flu, be sure to stay home from work and rest.
To learn more about the flu or to schedule your child’s flu shot, visit childrenswi.org/flu.